I’d love to live in a world where expectations are less tied to status. I know, that means I’m pushing against the definition of expectations altogether, but stick with me on this.

Someone asks how old you are. The answer is attached to a certain set of expectations about what should have been accomplished by a person of that age (career benchmarks, marriage, family, home ownership).

Someone asks what agency you’re with. Based on the answer, there are certain things folks believe you should have accomplished, right? You should be in guest star land, having left your co-star days behind. You should be making overscale. You should have access to all the casting offices someone repped by a “lesser agency” does not.

Your union status means you should have certain IMDb credits. Your StarMeter means you should have a reel of a certain level. You moved to Los Angeles? You should be on a series by now. You live in a minor market? You should be moving to LA if you are actually serious about a professional career as an actor.

Eesh. Expectations… not so great, are they?

I get that it’s handy to attach achievements and goals to certain benchmarks (age, geography, any sort of social status), but just because it’s handy doesn’t make it healthy. And if I have to choose, I’d always prefer a healthy pursuit in this life than one filled with any sort of pain or struggle.

I suppose this article is really all about asking us to be kinder to one another, by checking our agenda in asking anyone their age, their union status, their representation status, anything like that. “Am I asking your age because I’m impressed at what you’ve accomplished and I want to know whether that’s standard for an actor of your age?” “Am I asking who your agent is because I’m impressed with your recent booking and want to know which agent has access to such projects?” “Am I asking how long you’ve lived in LA because I want to determine how much I should’ve accomplished by now, based on your answer?”

Dude. You’re almost always asking these types of questions so that you can either judge the person with the information or, worse, beat yourself up for being the same age (or older), having as good an agent (or better), or having been in town as long (or longer) and NOT having accomplished what that person accomplished.

Instead, take a breath, say, “Wow. Good for you, accomplishing all of that. To what do you credit your success?”

You’ll be amazed the types of things — unrelated to age, union status, agency representation, geography, or time spent on the journey — that the successful person mentions. Be open to learning like that. It’ll go better than you might expect!

To what do you credit your success, my friends? Let’s hear about it in the comments area below! 😀 Yay!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001395.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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  1. Sean Lake September 26, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I owe my level of success first, to me. That’s always hard to say when first learning to love and believe in oneself. However, I’ve learned that in order for others to be confident in myself, like me, or whatever, I have got to believe in myself. It’s not self centered because I do not communicate it either through words, rather by actions.

    I then owe my level of success to those who support me. I am not at the level of success that I do wish, however, that will come when I am truly ready.

    1. Bonnie Gillespie September 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      I love this, Sean. Thank you! It’s so important to believe in ourselves. That you surround yourself with others who believe in you too is fantastic! What wonderful company, eh? Love it! Thank you for posting here.

  2. Anamaria September 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I think we would all feel so much freer to pursue what we love from a centered place if we would drop the need to box ourselves in according to other people’s expectations. After all, the road we take to success may be very different from that of another…Which is why it’s important to allow others the vantage point of their perspective and when possible to learn from it. Thank you for this lovely post! 🙂

    1. Bonnie Gillespie September 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Totally agree, Anamaria. If we can just observe rather than judge, we offer ourselves such a beautiful space from which to learn infinite things! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed this post. Thank you for participating in the dialogue! 😀

  3. Jessica Cameron September 28, 2012 at 12:19 am

    I have learned that taking joy in others success’s makes m life so much more full! There really is room for all of us who work our asses off!
    Support and respect go a long way with me!

    1. Bonnie Gillespie September 28, 2012 at 12:28 am

      It’s so easy to compete. When we instead embrace others for their successes, when we celebrate them for what they’ve made possible, when we find ourselves inspired by what we see others do, we are making the world a better place. 🙂 Rock on, rockstar! So glad this inspires you! XO ME TOO!


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